Digital Transformation

Can an Entangled Marketing® Model Enable a Brand to Survive in a Digital-First World?

Written by
Sebastian Jespersen
Can an Entangled Marketing® Model Enable a Brand to Survive in a Digital-First World?

Brands today have more consumer data at their disposal than ever before in human history, and this should enable brands to have both a meaningful and valued relationship with their customers. Yet according to estimates from research conducted by the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University, 40% of the Fortune 500 companies will disappear in the next decade. A study from Havas Media Group also suggests that most people would not care if 74% of all brands disappeared permanently.

A digital-first world

In an increasingly digital-first world, relatively new brands like Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon are among the minority of products and services that consumers actually do care about. Why? They offer intrinsic value to the needs of their customers, and as a result, have become embedded in their daily lives.

We are seeing an average decline of 5% in the value of two of the world’s long-ranked top brands: Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. These two companies have been household names for decades. This decline is driven in part by broader societal trends as more consumers adopt healthier lifestyles. Perhaps these two traditional brands should take a lesson from companies like Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook that focus on securing a ‘Share of Life’ throughout a customer’s day, week or month. ‘Share of Life’ demonstrates a far closer customer relationship than the old battle of market share fought through advertising wars.

Deep consumer involvement is one of the most critical factors that influence the growth of brands in today’s digital age. ‘Share of Life’ needs to be understood from a "micro-need" perspective, which means that brands should offer value and relevance in specific occasions that may have a varying set of needs. Brands must focus on customer decision journeys to ensure their relevance throughout this critical process.

Adopting the Entangled Marketing® business model will inspire CMOs to better define their future strategic direction. Using the model will ensure that brands stay truthful to their part of the value exchange between brand and consumer, while clarifying the marketing and communications role. Such a strategy will succeed best if the CMO and CIO are closely aligned; entanglement can’t exist at scale without technology. Nonetheless, a strong marketing strategy should also be rooted in a truly value-centric philosophy - centered on meeting customer needs at all touchpoints of their digital decision journey.

Entangled Marketing® as a mindset

Entangled Marketing® is not only a framework, but also a mindset. At its core is the principle of deeper consumer engagement combined with cleaning up mindless and wasteful marketing efforts. Remember that an empowered consumer and an empowered brand together will result in a truly mutually rewarding relationship in which consumers choose to entangle with the brand.

Although several brands have progressed in that they are using different platforms today than they were 20 years ago, a shift in mindset is required to remain relevant in today’s rapidly evolving always-on lifestyle. Consumers are looking for consistency and uniformity in a brand’s personality and in its story at all touchpoints. The brand story should effectively translate into brand experience. Consumers don’t buy ‘brands’ anymore; these days, they buy ‘experiences’.

An effective and impactful story can only translate into meaningful and memorable experiences if brands start the entanglement process by involving their customers in their story. Customers need to be treated as participants, not spectators. The emergence of disruptive innovation concepts like co-creation and crowdsourcing have their origins in involving the customer at the earliest stages of the brand building process. It is only through this process of participation that brands can create a sense of shared ownership, which is sustainable, responsible and inspires creativity.

Strong, insightful and dedicated marketing helps brands in designing, implementing and evolving this aspect of participation. If customers have been involved in the brand building process, then they need to be able to see the results in a meaningful and impactful way. Entangled Marketing® is marketing that is simple, focused, and differentiated. It also enables the core brand story to be communicated with value to those customers that the brand may serve best.


Martin Roll is a business & brand strategist and founder of Martin Roll Company. He advises Fortune 500 companies, Asian firms and family owned businesses. Experienced global keynote speaker, conference moderator and C-suite mentor. Teaches at global business schools. Best-selling author of “Asian Brand Strategy”.

Sebastian Jespersen is an innovator, a business strategist, and a breakthrough digital thinker. He founded independent digital agency Vertic over a decade ago, and published his book on Entangled Marketing® co-authored with the ‘Godfather of Direct Marketing’, Stan Rapp.

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